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Alberta Online Encyclopedia
Canadian Petroleum Heritage
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Roughnecks, Wildcats and Doodlebugs

Page 1 | 2

A unique feature of the website is the inclusion of CKUA Radio Network Inc.'s 24-part documentary and 60 minute video entitled  Roughnecks, Wildcats and Doodlebugs

Part 2 - The oil industry has been one of the fastest paced industries in the province for many years. Technological advancements continue to drive and change the industry and the boom to bust cycle creates an ever-changing and uncertain work environment. Find out more about this dynamic industry through a look at the Turner Valley site.  

Part 3 - Feature on Turner Valley and the oil industry in Alberta. The search for oil and gas is a risky business. Nitro-Charlie was a well-known figure in Alberta's early oil development era and is discussed by Tom Yorke.  Listen as Mr. Yorke, who at one time worked with Nitro-Charlie, explains why everyone was afraid to work with him, what he was best known for, his jewelry, and how he couldn’t get life insurance. There is also discussion around experimentation, disasters, and safety conditions.

Part 4 - Aubrey Kerr talks about legendary geologist Ted Link. Mr. Link discovered the existence of Norman Wells, 100 kilometres below the Arctic Circle in 1919. The discovery of crude oil wells in 1922 at the Norman Wells was an important discovery.  Although, it’s location was not ideal.  Many exploration crews journeyed to the Artic by aircraft.  Former workers discuss their experiences, the impact of World War II on the oil industry in Alberta and the aircraft used to survey the region.

Part 5 - Leduc No. 1 – The birthplace of Canada’s modern oil industry.  On Feb 13th, 1947, the Leduc No. 1 well owned by Imperial Oil struck oil at Leduc. Hundreds of people watched as 35,000 barrels of oil were produced in a single day.  Listen as former oil industry workers talk about the significance of Leduc No. 1 as well as Leduc No. 2 and why it was also an important well.

Part 6 - "When Leduc No. 1 began producing in 1947, it drew many people from the United States up to Alberta. The Palliser Hotel in Calgary hosted many of these newcomers until they were able to find places of their own. As a result, Calgary became known as the Oil Capital of Alberta. Listen as some of those "newcomers" reminisce about their early days in Alberta, working in the oil fields. Following the discovery at  Leduc No. 1, the industry began to invest one million dollars a year and, by 1950, they were investing close to 500 million dollars."

Part 7 - Atlantic #3 was Canada’s first major oil well blowout.  By 1948, 40 oil companies were working at the Leduc field.  Atlantic #3, ran wild for half of 1948 and made a fortune for its owner Frank McMan.   Learn more about Atlantic #3 and the life of Frank McMan.

Part 8 - 99.9% of the worlds' blowouts occur as a result of human error. When Atlantic No. 3 blewout in 1949, the Atlantic Oil Company had neither the technology nor the experience they needed in order to stop the blowout. Imperial Oil sent Tip Maronie, the man who had helped to stop a runaway well in South America a few years prior, to help tame the well. Before the well could be capped, the main derrick would fall over and the well itself would catch on fire. Find out more about this incredible story, including how Tip Maronie helped to bring it under control.

Part 9 - "Discussion on the role of oil scouts. There are two ways to probe the landscape for oil deposits - drilling holes and spying on the competition or "scouting." Former oil workers and employees discuss what "scouting" was all about."

Part 12 - Find out what the difference between a Geologist and a Geophysicist is. Although they sound quite similar, their jobs are actually quite different. Years ago, seismic work required dropping a large concrete block from a helicopter in order to measure the sound waves that bounced back from underground formations. Listen as contemporary geologists and geophysicists talk about their interesting and very unique occupations.

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